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Why Is Social Employee Advocacy a Big Deal?

Wharton Sirius FINAL F FoA F Social Employee GroupThis observation by Mark Burgess (@mnburgess) at the beginning of Wharton’s (@Wharton) Sept 7. edition of their popular Marketing Matters show, hosted by the wonderful Catherine Hays, helped set the tone for what turned out to be a lively and exciting two-hour conversation. Joining us for the show were social leaders Tom Peters (@tom_peters), David Edelman (@davidedelman), and Kevin Randall (@KevinBrandall). Each guest brought their own unique perspective to the discussion, but the concept of trust—like why trust in social employees is essential and how to build trust in your brand—kept coming up.

In the last few days, we have been exploring the contributions from each of these guests in-depth. Now, let’s dive deeper into the trust question.

Earned Media is the Holy Grail for Marketers

In the machine that is social media marketing, trust is the fuel that keeps everything running. Baby Boomers, Gen Xers, and Millennials alike have grown quite adept at blocking out unwanted brand messages—especially on social media. For brands to get their audience’s attention, they must seek real connections by creating content with depth and value.

Social employee advocates are ideally suited for this task. Although they represent a brand, they do so as authentic individuals. Even more, they’re not motivated solely by raising brand awareness, but by growing communities and learning from both customers and peers in their field so that they can do their jobs better. It’s for these reasons that employee-generated content is roughly eight times more effective than branded content—and it’s also why employees who share and advocate on behalf of their brand feel more connected and enthusiastic about the company for which they work.

As we discuss in our best-selling book The Social Employee (McGraw-Hill, 2014), social employee advocacy represents a new way of looking at the customer journey—one that values the post-purchase phase and encourages sustained engagement across touchpoints. Through this process, brands can achieve the “holy grail” of social engagement: earned media.

According to Nielsen, 92 percent of people trust earned media—such as word of mouth and peer recommendations—more than they trust any other source. Every like, every share, every retweet sent by customers, stakeholders, and fans generates incredible value for your brand. And guess what? These brand celebrators trust social employee advocates more than they trust any other company channel—including the CEO.

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